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Russia disappointed with U.S. missile shield proposal - Lavrov

RIA Novosti

28/11/2007 11:29 MOSCOW, November 28 (RIA Novosti) - Russia is disappointed with Washington's written proposals on missile defense cooperation, but is ready to continue constructive talks on the issue, the foreign minister said on Wednesday.

Russia has fiercely opposed U.S. plans to deploy new missile defense bases in Poland and the Czech Republic, suggesting that Washington use radars on Russian soil to counter possible attacks from "rogue" states. The two countries have held a series of talks on the issue.

"If the informal proposals in Moscow [during recent talks in "2+2" format] were a mere improvisation, then this improvisation failed. What we have received on paper is disappointing, but we do not rule out further dialogue with the Americans," Sergei Lavrov said on his way back from Tuesday's Mideast peace conference in the U.S.

Lavrov said Moscow considered missile defense as a key element of strategic stability.

"Understanding between the two leading world powers on this issue strengthens strategic stability, and, as a result, everyone benefits from it. But when strategic stability is harmed by violations of the strategic arms reductions treaty [START treaty], or by unilateral deployment of anti-ballistic missile systems, everyone starts feeling uncomfortable," the minister said.

"That is why, naturally, we will continue dialogue [on missile defense and related issues] with the United States," Lavrov reiterated.

Meanwhile, Gen. Yury Baluyevsky, chief of the Russian General Staff, blasted the recent U.S. missile defense cooperation offer and said Russia would never agree to a role as a "cost-free addition" to the U.S. missile shield.

"We did not see anything new in these [new] proposals. What constructive proposals are we talking about, if Russia has merely been offered the chance to become a cost-free addition to the U.S. missile shield in Europe?" Baluyevsky said on Wednesday.

A source in the Russian Foreign Ministry said last week that the new U.S. proposals did not mention a joint assessment of threats, the presence of Russian experts at U.S. missile defense sites in Europe, and did not confirm U.S. willingness to refrain from activating the [missile] shield in the absence of any real threat.

"They see us as, to put it mildly, a bunch of barking dogs that they can just ignore while they get on with their own business," said Baluyevsky, adding that the U.S. proposal was unacceptable.

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